Did you know that 52% of men between the ages of 40 to 70 experienced erectile dysfunction (ED) in their lives?
While erectile dysfunction typically occurs in older males, complaints of ED even in younger men are becoming more and more frequent.
In a worldwide study, involving more than 27,000 men from eight countries, researchers showed ED prevalence of 8% among men aged 20–29 years and 11% among those aged 30–39 years.
However, those seeking a natural alternative to ED, research shows that certain herbal and vitamin supplements may provide varying degrees of success for ED.
What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or maintain an erection for sex or during sexual activity. This happens when there is not enough blood flow through the penile veins, partially due to an enzyme called PDE5.
Experiencing occasional erectile dysfunction is common among many men as high stress or anxiety may cause the problem. Typically, occasional ED goes away after de-stressing or taking a break from sexual activity.
However, frequent and consistent ED can be a sign of health problems in which you may need professional treatment. Moreover, frequent ED can also be a sign of depression, anxiety, intimacy or relationship difficulties that may need to be addressed by a mental health professional.
What are the causes of erectile dysfunction?
Cigarette smoking can damage just about every part of your body. The chemicals in cigarette smoke injure the lining of your blood vessels and affect the way they function.
So it not shocking to hear that smoking disrupts the blood vessels in the penis from enlarging hinder your performance.
A 2005 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that ED is more likely in men who smoked compared with those who never did.
Alcohol-induced ED, refers to erection problems that follow drinking alcohol. Booze impairs circulation and nerve sensitivity—two factors crucial to sexual arousal—and increases levels of a hormone linked to ED.
During sexual arousal, the brain sends messages to the penis, telling it to become erect. Intoxication can slow down or interrupt those signals between the brain and body, resulting in ED.
Being overweight or obese can cause E.D. by damaging the blood vessels, decreasing testosterone and causing a state of generalized inflammation in the body.
Erectile disorders in obese men are significantly more frequent than in general population. In fact, obesity leads to erectile dysfunction in a considerably greater extent than aging.
The best treatment for obesity related ED is body weight loss in additional to following a nutritious diet.
Psychological factors contributing to ED may be difficult to diagnose and treat. The most common psychological causes for ED include the following:
If you’re experiencing ED along with psychological issues, talk with your doctor. Together, you and your doctor can find a cause and a treatment to bring your sexual health back to normal.
Common treatments for erectile dysfunction
Oral medications are a successful erectile dysfunction treatment for many men. They include:
- Sildenafil (Viagra)
- Tadalafil (Adcirca, Cialis)
- Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)
- Avanafil (Stendra)
All four medications enhance the effects of nitric oxide — a natural chemical your body produces that relaxes muscles in the penis. This increases blood flow and allows you to get an erection in response to sexual stimulation.
Taking any of these meds will not automatically produce an erection. Sexual stimulation is needed first to cause the release of nitric oxide from your penile nerves.
A vacuum erection device or vacuum pump is a hollow tube with a hand-powered or battery-powered pump. The tube is placed over your penis, and then the pump is used to suck out the air inside the tube. This creates a vacuum that pulls blood into your penis.
Once you get an erection, you slip a tension ring around the base of your penis to hold in the blood and keep it firm. You then remove the vacuum device.
The erection typically lasts long enough for a couple to have sex. You remove the tension ring after intercourse. Bruising of the penis is a possible side effect, and ejaculation will be restricted by the band.
Surgery and implants
This treatment involves surgically placing devices into both sides of the penis. These implants consist of either inflatable or malleable (bendable) rods. Inflatable devices allow you to control when and how long you have an erection.
Penile implants are usually not recommended until other methods have been tried first.
As with any surgery, there's a risk of complications, such as infection.
Natural Supplements for Erectile Dysfunction
Best Herbal Supplements for ED
In a systematic review of seven studies of red ginseng and ED found that taking dosages ranged from 600 to 1,000 milligrams (mg) three times daily helped with ED symptoms. The researchers noted “suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of red ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.”
Ginseng is known to have anti-inflammatory action, improve lung function, and improve blood flow in other diseases — all characteristics that may reduce ED.
Ashwagandha is a plant traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote a youthful state of physical and mental well-being.
Multiple studies have shown improvement in stress and anxiety scores after supplementation with ashwagandha.
Some studies have shown that ashwagandha supplementation improves muscle strength, improves semen quality, and raises testosterone levels in men.
Common side effects include sleepiness (approximately 20% of users in one study), loose stools (approximately 20% of users in one study), and gastrointestinal discomfort (approximately 10% of users in one study).
For overall health benefits, maca is a great addition to your diet. Maca, or Lepidium meyenii, is rich in:
- amino acids
There are three types of maca: red, black, and yellow. Black maca also appears to alleviate stress and improve memory.
In animal trials, maca extract significantly improved sexual performance in rats. But this Peruvian root has minimal evidence for its direct ability to improve erectile function.
Studies show that eating this root may have a placebo effect. The same researchers also found that maca has no effect on hormones levels.
Men who took 3 grams of maca per day for 8 weeks reported an improvement in sexual desire more often than men who didn’t take it.
One small study indicated that Rhodiola rosea may be helpful with men experiencing ED.
Twenty-six out of 35 men were given 150 to 200 mg a day for three months. They experienced substantially improved sexual function.
Rhodiola rosea has been shown to improve energy and reduce fatigue. More studies are needed to understand action and ensure safety.
Yohimbe comes from the bark of a West African evergreen tree. For the last 70 years, people have used Yohimbe as a treatment for ED because it’s believed to:
- activate the penile nerves to release more NO
- widen the blood vessels to increase blood flow in the penis
- stimulate the pelvic nerve and boost adrenaline supply
- increase sexual desire
- prolong erections
A combination of yohimbine and L-arginine is shown to significantly improve erectile function in people with ED.
This herb has been linked to a number of side effects, including increased blood pressure, fast or irregular heartbeat, and anxiety.
Yohimbe shouldn't be used without a doctor's supervision.
Horny goat weed
Substances in the leaves of this herb have been used to improve sexual performance, but the herb has not been studied in people.
Some anecdotal reports and animal tests suggest that horny goat weed might help address ED by improving erections. Horny goat weed contains icariin, a substance that is a mild inhibitor of PDE5. Inhibiting PDE5 is how ED medications like Viagra and Cialis work.
Best Vitamins and minerals for ED
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in bone health, several cellular processes, and the maintenance of calcium and phosphorus levels in the body.
Vitamin D may reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, or stimulate nitric oxide production, which is an important part of the erectile response.
Vitamin B3, or niacin, may also improve erectile function. A 2011 study found that niacin alone could improve symptoms in people with moderate to severe ED.
Vitamin B9, or folic acid, may also play a role in ED. A 2014 study found that many participants with ED also had a folic acid deficiency.
If you looking for a Vitamin B supplement, Nutriair offers Nutriair B-Complex with CoQ10 is a combination of essential B vitamins and antioxidants.
Nutriair delivers nutrients like vitamin B through micro-aerosolization. That’s a big, fancy word that basically means we’re able to transport vitamins through our Nutriair device via breath. In fewer words, we’ve created an innovative delivery system that’s ridiculously simple and convenient.
Zinc is an important trace mineral in the body that plays a role in many cellular processes including wound healing, cell growth, and muscle development.
Some studies have shown that zinc supplementation can improve semen quality in subfertile men and increase testosterone levels in zinc-deficient men.
It is recommended that men have at least 11 mg per day of zinc, which can come from food or supplements.
Magnesium is a very important mineral in the body that plays a role in many cellular processes, bone structure, and muscle function.
Some studies indicate that low magnesium status may be a risk factor for osteoporosis.
Magnesium is critical for maintaining a healthy heartbeat and may protect against cardiovascular disease.
Some studies have shown that magnesium supplementation can increase testosterone levels in men.
It is recommended that men have at least 400–420 mg per day of magnesium, which can come from food or a combination of food and supplements.
Copper is an important trace mineral in the body that plays a role in a wide range of bodily functions.
It is recommended that copper supplementation be paired with high doses of zinc supplementation, since zinc can decrease the absorption of copper.
It is recommended that men have at least 0.9 mg of copper per day, which can come from food or supplements.
Best Amino acids for ED
L-arginine is an amino acid naturally present in your body. It helps make nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels to facilitate a successful erection and is essential for healthy sexual functioning.
Researchers studied the effects of L-arginine on ED. Thirty-one percent of men with ED taking 5 grams of L-arginine per day experienced significant improvements in sexual function.
Another placebo-controlled study found that L-arginine in combination with other medications was well-tolerated, safe, and effective for mild-to-moderate ED.
L-citrulline is an amino acid normally made by the body. The body converts L-citrulline to L-arginine, another type of amino acid.
L-arginine improves blood flow. It does so by creating nitric oxide (NO), a gas that helps dilate blood vessels.
The same effect on blood vessels helps improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED).
There are several steps you can take to help prevent ED. Many of these steps involve making healthy lifestyle changes. Therefore, they’re not only good for preventing ED, but also for improving your overall health.
You should also be sure to keep up with your regular checkups. Your doctor will monitor important clinical measurements, such as your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This can help with early identification and treatment of conditions that can potentially lead to ED
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The information in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.